Painting: Schlitzie

After completing the Lincoln painting my tattoo artist Rob Jarrett at 2 Ton Gallery in Kingsport expressed interest in a similar piece – “Either a Lincoln or something circus related“. Not wanting to make the same painting twice (and having long-since destroyed the stencils I created for the Lincoln piece) I decided to go the Circus route so my research began.

After going through several different concepts and design ideas that included freak show posters for “The Tattooed Lady” and “The Animal Boy” and portraits of various famous side show attractions I settled on a portrait of Schlitzie Surtees, often known as a either a “Pinhead”, “The Missing Link”, “The Last of the Aztecs”, “The Monkey Girl”, or very much like predecessor Zip, “What Is It?” as Schlitzie suffered from microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder that, among other symptoms, leaves one with an unusually small brain and skull and an abnormally small stature.

Schlitzie was a happy soul and as a long-time circus attraction & movie star, lived to perform. His pleasant demeanor is reflected in the photo I chose for this portrait – grin stretched across his face, shoulders slightly shrugged and draped in one of his trademark muumuus (he was often presented as either female or androgynous). This is painted on a 30″x40″ canvas with several layers of Montana Black spray paints utilizing three separate stencils hand-cut out of 32″x40″ cardboard sheets and will hopefully be displayed within the walls of 2 Ton.

Not for sale.

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